The effort to create a large-scale marathon within the City of Milwaukee moved off the starting line this week, with a preliminary go-ahead from a Common Council Committee.
Following the vote on Tuesday, Chris Ponteri, event organizer and owner of Longrun Athletics LLC, announced the marathon, half marathon, 5K and one-mile races would be held the weekend of Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2015.
Ponteri plans to draw thousands of runners to the festival, which would rival the Twin Cities Marathon, Pittsburgh Marathon and the Flying Pig, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Those events have drawn roughly 25,000 participants.
Ponteri has been pushing for a larger marathon to showcase the city, but still has tough miles ahead.
The Common Council Public Works Committee approved a measure that directs city staff to work with Ponteri on an operating agreement and special events permit that would lay out the course, the costs, the security and other details for the marathon and partner races. That agreement will then come back to the Common Council.
“This is a wise and practical way to proceed so we have all the issues dealt with at one time,” said Alderman Bob Bauman, an early skeptic of Ponteri’s plans. “What the agreement ultimately says may be more problematic.”
The course for the marathon has not been determined, but is projected to start at the Summerfest grounds on the lakefront, pass through well-established neighborhoods and feature landmarks like Miller Park, the Harley-Davidson Museum, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
“This event will attract people from all over the country, and offer a unique experience too runners of all ages, experience levels and abilities,” Ponteri said after the committee vote.
Ponteri, who organizes the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon in January, initially proposed a spring event that would serve as a major marathon in the city, something larger than the current Lakefront Marathon. Objections from Milwaukee World Festivals Inc., which puts on Summerfest and the Rock ‘N Sole runs in May, objected to that time frame.
Ponteri overcame that hurdle by moving the Milwaukee Running Festival to the late fall.
He envisions the festival as a compliment to the Lakefront Marathon, traditionally held the first Sunday in October.